We continued with our Chinese New Year mini unit study today, reading the section on how people prepare for the Lunar New Year and common fo...

Chinese New Year Mini Unit Day 2 with 'Celebrating Chinese New Year'

We continued with our Chinese New Year mini unit study today, reading the section on how people prepare for the Lunar New Year and common foods that are made in "Celebrating Chinese New Year" by Eugenia Chu. 

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Common traditions to prepare for the Lunar New Year are cleaning your house and getting rid of things you don't need, getting haircuts (using sharp objects during the new year celebration can "cut out good fortune"!), decorating the house, and buying new red clothes and gifts for family and friends. While we didn't get much cleaning done (but I am still in the middle of trying to reorganize the kids toys and put a bunch into storage! You can read about our project here: "Sissy Goes Tiny" Book Review), we did get to work on making some decorations! Since it's the year of the tiger, we made these adorable new year tiger projects from Deep Space Sparkle.

You can view the full tutorial and download a drawing guide at the link above, but the gist of the project is to write your dreams for the year (whether realistic or not) with crayons or oil pastels on a piece of white multi-media paper. Some of the things the kids chose were really unrealistic like see the northern lights and visit a rainforest, some where unlikely like visit Disney, and some were very doable like go to the ninja playground with our friends and visit a zoo and aquarium!

After that, the kids watercolored their paper and set it aside to dry while they made their tigers. The drawing guide makes it super easy for even the youngest artists to draw a tiger! Once the background paper is dry, cut out the tiger drawing and glue it to the background. Now you have a beautiful tiger decoration for your Lunar New Year celebration!

I'm sure we'll be making more decorations throughout the next week and I'll share photos of them all when we do. The reason we didn't make any more decorations today is that we decided to turn our attention to food. 

Eugenia lists several common new year's foods that are made and eaten throughout China and we were very interested in the niángāo since we had never heard of it before! We discovered it is a steamed cake made from glutinous rice flour. I happened to have glutinous rice flour - we picked it up last week at the Asian market when we got lots of dumplings and buns for our New Year's dim sum feast. The problem was, I didn't have the right size pan to steam the cake. However, I came across this recipe for Baked Nián Gāo on the Asian cooking site, What to Cook Today. Now that I could make! It needs only a handful of ingredients: glutinous rice flour, sugar (we used the lesser amount of sugar), coconut milk, eggs, and butter. We quickly got to work and had a delicious smelling cake in no time!

We did not know what to expect from the cake and were pleasantly surprised to find it's gooey and chewy and sticky like Japanese mochi! The flavor was mild but delicious, with a hint of coconut and not too sweet. If you're looking for a simple Chinese New Year dessert, I highly recommend trying this one! If you don't have an Asian market nearby, you can order glutinous rice flour online.

Make sure to come back next week for more Chinese New Year fun! And click below for more days of learning and celebrating!